Show Search Results Show Browse

A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Ill, adj. Also: il, ille, yll, yle, hyl(l. [ME. (chiefly north. and north midl.) yl(l, il(l, ille (adj 1200), ON. ill-r. Cf. Evill adj., Ivill a., and the note on Ill n.]

1. Morally evil, wicked, bad; malevolent, malignant. Also absol. Said of persons, and transf., of animals.(1) 1375 Barb. iii. 103.
The thrid … wes rycht stout, ill, and feloune
Ib. iv. 289 (E).
Scho rasyt the ill spyryt als tit
a1400 Leg. S. vi. 555.
Thu hyll man … , That gerris oure wiffis fra vs ga
Ib. xxvii. 577.
Syne as il men tuk to rede Nedly for til haf hyme dede
c1420 Wynt. viii. 6536.
The Scottis men, That he cald ill and wykyd then
c1450 Cr. Deyng 80.
In consolacioune to gud men and in confusioune … to ill men
1535 Stewart 61208.
The ill angell … With prophecie dissauit mony one
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5998.
The cruell minde … Of this ill man
Ib. 7026.
I salbe callit the ill woman full sure
1596 Dalr. I. 153/18.
As hes beine the diuine Providence, that na yle prince sould haue ony successione
1603 Philotus cxxvi.
Ill spreit, to God I me beteiche Fra thé
1650 Maxwell Mem. I. 356.
That ill folk would putt prines in som folkes heart
1695 Annandale Corr. 109.
I hope all ill mens … desseines shall be disapoynted
(2) absol. a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 1235.
One domysday, quhen he sal deme Gud & il
?1438 Alex. ii. 3177.
Than leuch thay all, baith gud and ill
1535 Stewart 19775.
All the men … Baith ill and gude that thair war
Ib. 32259.
That da tha sauit nother ȝoung or ald. … ill or gude
1605 Dundonald Par. Rec. 75.
That all the ill micht go to Hell
(3) transf. 1585 James VI Ess. 45.
Of fowlis a woundrous store, … some ill And rauening fowlis
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) 4.
An ill hound comes halting home

b. Of actions, conduct, etc. a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 916.
Il thewis & il dede
c1420 Wynt. viii. 1234.
He … acqwyt hym … That off nane ill succudry … He usurpyd than the crown
?1438 Alex. ii. 7762.
With gude intent and nocht with ill
c1420 Ratis R. 108.
Gret mischef folowis ill vynyng
a1500 Seven S. 1403.
Wa thé be, Sa ill a deid has done to me
1560 Rolland Seven S. 10748.
Ane ill entrie for commoun is ill endit
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xcvi. 11.
For thift and reiff nor men of ill conditioun Is na pvnitioun
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) 3.
An ill life, an ill end
a1652 Dickson Psalms II. 22.
The wicked are very hearty to do an ill turn
1660 S. Leith Rec. I. 116.
The people … at the sign of Noah's Ark keeps an ill house, drinking nyght and day
1682 Peden Lord's Trumpet 22.
All the ill-turns that they do, they father them ... upon the bible

c. Of reputation or report: Implying evil or discredit; discreditable. a1500 Prestis of Peblis 925.
Sum wil tel il tailes of the Queene
1596 Dalr. I. 135/7.
In banisment he past ouer his lyfe in miserie, sclandir and yll name
Ib. 164/34.
Ane auaritious persone, … of a verie yll fame

d. Qualifying a noun denoting suspicion: Imputing or expecting evil. c1420 Wynt. ii. 402.
Hys [sc. Joseph's] fadyr … had his presumptyoune off thame ille
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (S.T.S.) No. 202 (MS.).
Ane ill disposition breidis ill suspition

e. The ill man, the Devil. 1693 Arnot Celebrated Criminal Trials (1785) 77.
[A health to King James] and bid the ill man take all that refused to pledge it

2. Tending to do or doing hurt: harmful, injurious, noxous.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xl. 203.
Thare he saw sawyne il seide
Ib. l. 726.
Bot all that gud is, it is thare, And ill thing ma thar cum neuir mare
c1420 Ratis R. 168.
Sonar slais ill air na suord
c1475 Wall. ii. 155.
Ill meyt and drynk thai gert on till hym giff
a1500 Seven S. 1566.
He had done hire mekle gud That menyst samekle of hir ill blud
Ib. 1804.
Thai maid ill conclusioun
1581 Douglas Corr. 178.
Il apperances that may, to hir maiesties mislyking … , fall out in that realme.
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (S.T.S.) No. 476 (1641).
Ill weids waxes weill
Ib. No. 514.
It is ill to wakin sleiping dogs
1689 Siege Edinb. Castle 120.
To give notice if any thing should happen that lookt ill
- 1672 Sinclair Hydrostaticks 197.
The coalhewers ... were stopped ... by damps or ill air
1675 Sheriffhall Coal Accompt June 5.
For closing wp il air
1680 Ib. Aug. 28. (2) c1460 Consail Vys Man 254.
Sa scho be kepit fra ill custume, Fra ill rapar and ill cumpany, Na ill ensampill se hir by
1535 Stewart 15792.
Ill companie … It bringis mony to rycht greit mischeif
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) 5 b.
Better be alone nor in ill companie
(3) c1460 Thewis Wysmen 323.
Thai here ill consaill radely And drawis thaim till ill cumpany
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 392.
Ill counsall is a spirituale pestilens
(4) 1617 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. VIII. 345.
Three bittir thingis hes yow bittin, ill hairt, ill ee, ill toung all meast
Ib. 346.
[A child] quha haid tane ane brash of seiknes thrugh ane ill ee
1650 Maxwell Mem. I. 354.
Charmeing for the blainke of ane ill eye
Ib. 356.
Shee sayd to one that her beast was eaten away with ane ill eye
1662 Highland P. III. 19.
She confesses haveing the charme for ane ill ey
(5) 1604 Dundonald Par. Rec. 49;
Ane bairn of his ... [who] haid gottin ... ane blast of ill wind
1617 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. VIII. 347.
She … said if she haid bein witchit she wald have knawin it, bot it was bot ane blast of ill wind
1623 Perth Kirk S. 305.
She could help bairns who had gotten ane dint of ill wind
1650 Brechin Presb. 39.

b. Said of rainy or stormy weather. a1500 Seven S. 2030.
With rane, fyreflaucht & all ill wedder
1640 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 175.
Quhat glangoir war ye doing in that ill weather?
a1650 Row 330.
The ill windie Bartle day in anno 159-
1684 Cullen Kirk S. 11 Feb.
No sermon by reason of the ill day

c. Of language: Abusive. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 210.
Giue ill wordis cum, than lat ȝour malice swage
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (S.T.S.) No. 41.
Ane ill word meets another, and it were at the bridge of London
c 1630 Waddell Old Kirk Chron. (1893) 93.
For flyting with hir husband, and abusing him with hir unreverend and ill speichis
1639 Ritchie Churches S. Baldred 245.
For abusing hir husband by ill-speaking and scolding
1668 Ayr & Wigt. Coll. IV. 80.
He provocked the said Johne Dillidaff with ill langwage
1675 S. Leith Rec. 131.
Cited for abusing some of elders and giving them ill language

d. Harsh, severe (in speech or treatment) to another. 1680 Cloud of Witnesses 32.
He told me that the whole Council observed that I gave them not their due titles, ... he said I was ill to the bishop

3. Harsh, heavy, severe. c1420 Wynt. v. 1114.
I, anoyit in angris yl, My lyff ledys
c1420 Ratis R. 1215.
Quharfor men suld have gud pardone And quharfor ill pwnissioune
1599 Kirkcudbr. Min. Bk. 246.
The pest being verie ill in Drumfries
1650 Carstaires Lett. 60.
Had shee not taken ane ill hoste

b. To take in (ane) ill part, to feel aggrieved at, to resent. 1596 Dalr. I. 125/19.
Al takes it in ane yll parte
Ib. II. 285/20.
[They] tuke his craking in an ill parte
1628 Red Bk. Menteith II. 75.
The ministrie will tak the delay in il parte

c. Difficult, troublesome, hard. Chiefly const. with infin. 1375 Barb. xx. 554 (E).
It is … ill to ger him be Turnyt fra way of rychtwisnes
c1420 Wynt. II. 1538.
Perylows that were hym thoucht And ille to purpos to be broucht
1535 Stewart 8023.
Ill it wes for to decerne or ken Quho had bene thair
Ib. 13719.
The pepill war … ill to wit quhat way that thai had wend
1560 Rolland Seven S. 165.
To bring but its ill thats not thair ben
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (S.T.S.) No. 540.
It will be an ill web to bleitch
Ib. No. 887 (MS.).
Its ill stealing besyd a theef
a1661 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 258.
I find Christ and His cross not so ill to please … as men call them
1683 Martine Reliq. Divi Andreae 106.
A very hard clause and ill to be understood

4. Of fortune, experience, etc.: Unfortunate, unlucky, unpropitious; unhappy, miserable, wretched. c1460 Wisd. Solomon 671.
Men suld in gud dais vs gud thingis, and … beware fore the ill day
c1460 Thewis Gud Women 244.
Bettyr pwnis thaim, and gar thaim mend, Na saul and lyf tak baith ill end
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1243.
Quhat menis fortoune be skill, Ane gude chance or ane ill
1535 Stewart 49.
Oftymes thairfoir tha maid ane full ill end
15.. Wyf Awchtirm. 64.
Quod he, ‘This wark hes ill begynning’
1566-70 Buch. Comm. Virgil Æn. ii. 261.
Diis iratis natus (in ane yll tyme borne)
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 233 (T).
Tak thé thre byttis of ane ill hour
a1605 Montg. Sonn. xvi. 8.
My hope is high, houbeit my hap be ill
1650 Moray Synod 109.
I may say I am lik the Laird of Melros, I never lost my ill cause and I never won my good cause
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 21.
The imputation oft laid uppon Scotsmen to reckon from an ill houre
1685-8 Renwick Serm. 390.
The Lord can make an ill year part you and the things of this world

5. Not good, not up to standard, poor, inferior, defective. a. Of material things, also animals, in respect of quality or make.(1) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxiv. 56.
Ane browstar swoir the malt wes ill, Bath reid and reikit on the kill
1505 Lennox Mun. 172.
All maner of erd, ill and gude as it lyis
1549 Elgin Rec. I. 99.
The names of tham that are convic … for … ill breid
a1605 Montg. Sonn. xxv. 7.
Eit [= oat] breed, ill aill
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) 3.
A good cow may have an ill calf
1647 Baillie III. 19.
What I have scribled in haste, on a very ill sheet of paper
1655 Peebles B. Rec. II. 26.
Each aiker of land to pay 2s. monethlie, and each ill aiker 20d.
1692 Cromarty Corr. I. 87.
The bringing in any … that wer ill toolls in former goverments
(2) 1652 Elgin Rec. I. 294.
With sevin pundis … of light siluer and ill siluer whairof ane evill croce doller and ane evill sixpence
1659 Hay Diary 87.
She cast [= rejected] much of it as ill money
1691 Foulis Acc. Bk. 141.
To Ann Lockart ane ill halfe croun and ill 2sh

b. Of persons, in respect of ability or performance in some employment, task or duty. a1598 Ferg. Prov. (S.T.S.) No. 72 (1641).
An ill shearer gat never a good hook
Ib. No. 142 (MS.).
Ane ill payer makes a sore craver
Ib. No. 821.
Ill hirds maks fatt wolfs
1603 Elgin Rec. II. 114.
Robert Keyth, elder, delatis baith Blakhillis and Glakmarres ill keiparis of the kirk

c. In abstract or non-material applications. c1420 Ratis R. 330.
The men [= mean] dois al that done suld bee … ; May na man say at it is ill
1535 Stewart 8633.
Put the wyte of all the haill mischance Till ill gyding
1583 Hay Nobility 39.
The laste Lorde, who was of yll gouernement
1662 Crim. Trials III. 612.
We powr in this water … For lang dwyning and ill heall
1689 Leven & Melville P. 205.
I think the other syd of Tay is lost, and Fyv is in very ill tune
1689 Siege Castle Edinb. 37.
8 score barrells of powder, in very ill order

6. Comb. with boned, heud (-hued), mowtht, savorit. See also Ill-faced and Ill-fard. a1400 Leg. S. ix. 235.
The fellone fende … with gret noyse & ilmowtht late … he held his gate
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4600 (Ch.).
That is ane il sauorit dische
a1605 Montg. Sonn. xxiv. 2.
Ane ill heud huirsone
1645 Rutherford Tri. Faith xvii. (1845) 184.
There is a Saviour's hand … to wheel in an ill-boned soul

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Ill adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse DOST: